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CTRL-Labs’ neural armband inspires acquisition by Facebook

Facebook has announced the acquisition of neural interface company CTRL-Labs.

CTRL-Labs CTRL-kit product is currently being previewed to developers. Taking the form of an armband, CTRL-Labs describes the device as being “a non-invasive neural interface platform that lets developers reimagine the relationship between humans and machines with new, intuitive control schemes”.

Although financial details were not forthcoming, CNBC estimated the size of the deal as being between $500mn and $1bn, based on information provided by a source. The New York startup is to become part of Facebook’s Reality Labs team, with the intention of scaling the product and bringing it to market. Reality Labs works on Augmented and Virtual Reality technology and, with Facebook owning leading VR company Oculus, CTRL-Labs offering seems certain to have some application in Facebook’s existing and developing offerings in the space. New announcements are expected at Facebook’s Oculus Connect 6 event tomorrow.

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In the run up to the acquisition, CTRL-Labs made a purchase of its own – patents for the Myo armband of rival North. Of the co-founders, Patrick Kaifosh is a published neuroscientist, while Thomas Reardon, who also has a PhD in neuroscience, previously worked at Microsoft, creating the Internet Explorer browser.

In a post on Facebook, Facebook’s VP of augmented and virtual reality, Andrew Bosworth, put forth a vision of more intuitively controlled devices and technology. “The vision for this work is a wristband that lets people control their devices as a natural extension of movement. Here’s how it’ll work: You have neurons in your spinal cord that send electrical signals to your hand muscles telling them to move in specific ways such as to click a mouse or press a button. The wristband will decode those signals and translate them into a digital signal your device can understand, empowering you with control over your digital life.”

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